Michael Laitman, On The Times of Israel: “Who Is a Jew?”
“Jew” is not a bad word. There is no need to be apologetic for using it, was the claim of the German Jewish community after the leading dictionary of German language Duden added an explanation to their standard definition stating that the term “Jew” (Jude) might often be perceived as derogatory. This clarification was later removed because German Jews decided that it would only “solidify the term as discriminatory.” However, such controversies over terminology will never erase Jew-hatred, but only highlight it.
In order to skirt the issue and avoid possible negative connotations, many Jewish communities around the world define themselves as “Hebrews” or “Israelites.” Similarly, the British football club Tottenham recently urged fans to stop calling themselves the “Yid Army” (from Yiddish, referring to their particular large number of Jewish followers), as they don’t want to identify with terms that could be considered offensive. But tiptoeing around words will never ease antisemitic views because hatred against Jews is not a problem of semantics, it is a human problem.
Antisemitism stems from the depths of the network of connections between all human beings in the world. These connections are invisible spiritual connections, but they are deeply felt in the subconscious of the human race. At the level of this network, Jews have a central role to play in humanity: to act as the connecting factor between the other peoples who feel natural separation from each other.
If the Jews do not fulfill this role by first becoming united between them in one heart so that the connecting force between them binds all of reality as organs in one body, then they arouse negative forces against them, inviting a hostile antisemitic response.
Therefore, instead of dealing with superficial explanations of whether or not the word “Jew” is derogatory, Jews should put into practice and enact the deeper meaning of the term which has prevailed throughout generations: “Jew” (from the Hebrew word Yehudi)–Yechudi means unique and unified.
The Jewish people are not a people like other nations, founded on the common denominators of residential area, family relations, origin or color. The followers of Abraham, the founder of the Jewish nation, were instead a conglomeration of different people whose one common denominator was a shared ideological basis. This special group would later be called “Israel,” which is derived from the phrase Yashar-El (Straight to God), i.e. a desire directed straight to the power that manages reality.
Based on this principle, according to the sages a Jew is every person in the world, regardless of race, gender, language or nationality, who longs to be united with everyone above all differences. A Jew is one who strives to unite the whole of humanity and the whole of reality with the primary force of nature, the Upper Force.
Therefore, only a Jewish community that learns to unite, to transcend all the differences that grow and separate its members, will feel how prejudices and negative attitudes toward it are reversed for the better. Then, even without words and definitions, a new meaning of being Jews will be felt in the hearts of those who oppose them, and animosity will be transformed in appreciation.